Former Huron Schools band director sentenced to prison

HURON Edgar Berry's teaching days are over. The 39-year-old Huron resident was senten
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

HURON

Edgar Berry's teaching days are over.

The 39-year-old Huron resident was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for sexual encounters with a teenage student from Olmsted Falls High School.

The conviction guarantees his teaching license will be revoked.

Formerly the Huron Schools band director, Berry became the band director at Olmsted Falls in 2006 and he eventually used his position of power to manipulate and engage in a year-long series of sexual exchanges with a high school senior, said Jennifer Driscoll, assistant county prosecutor with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office.

The encounters took place in the closet of the band room, the parking lots of restaurants and motel rooms, Driscoll said.

While he never had intercourse with the student, Berry did partake in other kinds of sexual behavior including kissing and fondling.

Berry became wildly jealous when he saw the girl talking with boys, prosecutors said, and he cried when she didn't comply with his wishes and coerced her into seeing him even when she resisted.

"He was very possessive -- it wasn't just an adult having (sexual contact) with a child. He was entrenched in it and made her entrenched in it," Driscoll said.

Prosecutors said the evidence in the case was overwhelming.

Berry gave the girl gifts and cards, which she shared with authorities.

Time signatures made by the school's security system showed Berry was at the school at times corresponding with the details of the sexual exchanges provided by the girl, Driscoll said.

Reading from a prepared statement, the girl described in court how Berry's conduct stained her life and caused her considerable grief.

"Since the time the crime was committed, I am a different person. I do not trust males, especially male teachers, like I did before. I cry more easily and more often," she said. "I have lived in fear up until this day of what he might do. I have had flashbacks continuously since this happened, which cause me to become numb and not myself."

A 2009 graduate of Olmsted Falls High School, the girl said Berry told her he planned to visit her when she left for college. She said her family fears Berry will try to stay in contact with her.

Because she lives in a small town, the girl also said word spread quickly about the case, causing her reputation irreparable damage. When she heads to college next year, the girl hopes to start anew, Driscoll said.

As part of a plea agreement, Berry's three charges were reduced from sexual battery to gross sexual imposition. He faced as many as four and a half years in prison, but the judge also could have sentenced him to probation.

Driscoll said she believes the girl's tearful speech helped convince the judge that Berry's actions demanded incarceration.

"You could tell what she's gone through and the judge saw it, and the judge was just excellent in recognizing this wasn't just an 'oops' on his part," Driscoll said.

Berry served as the band director for Huron Schools from 1992 to 1999. He then worked at Bay Village Schools before taking over as the band director in Olmsted Falls.

His actions were uncovered after a friend of the girl went to school officials in December with her concerns. School officials called police. Berry, who is married with a child, was placed on administrative leave in mid-December. He later resigned.

His attorney, Michael Polito, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.